The beautiful and appropriately named High Valley is one of California’s newest American Viticultural Areas (AVA). With vineyards mostly planted between 1,800 and 2,200 feet above sea level this lofty appellation towers over Lake County. Due to its lofty environ, combined with the natural east/west orientation of the valley - which pulls in coastal breezes - and the northern exposure of the vineyards, High Valley represents relatively cool climate viticulture in Lake County.
Despite only recently gaining AVA status, High Valley has a long, albeit interrupted tradition in grape growing. In the 19th century the valley was a significant grape growing region, but this once booming industry was abruptly halted by Prohibition in the early 20th century. Thankfully, the region has reemerged as an important and distinct viticultural region. A combination of California’s traditional star grapes including
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Sirah, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc make up the varietal mix planted on the volcanic slopes found in this region. As cool climate regions are gaining notoriety in California, the High Valley AVA should soon stand tall amongst its peers as a premium grape growing region in the state.
In the southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia vineyards are small and few, yet the establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands could bring much more.
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